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Concussion in 13 yo daughter...help!!

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Unread 05-10-2012, 11:01 AM   #1
sarauscher
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Default Concussion in 13 yo daughter...help!!

My daughter suffered from a concussion almost 7 weeks ago. She had some visual disturbance issues (convergence/divergence issues, blurred vision, nystagmus, etc), some dizziness, ringing in the ears, and headaches. We have been going to a concussion specialist and doing Physical Therapy once a week.

The headaches are still pretty much a daily occurence, with a very debiilitating headache about two times per week still.

The doctor says she needs to rest her brain. She is an athlete (Soccer (where the concussion came from) and Track/Cross Country) and she is also a very intelligent child (straight A's and all Honors classes). The doctors have cut out all sports and want her to not read too much or watch TV or any screen time. Just being active (shopping, etc) seems to bother her. What options do we have to keep her busy and let her brain heal? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep her from being bored?

I am also very concerned about the long term effects from this concussion. Reading all the info I can find about Post Concussive Syndrome is really scaring me. Have any of you fully healed from your Concussions?

Thanks for any help you all can offer, I am glad to have found this site.

Sheryl
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Unread 05-10-2012, 01:40 PM   #2
EsthersDoll
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Hi Sheryl,

Try not to worry. Your daughter has statistics on her side now to make a full recovery.

There are several people here who've made full recoveries; I'm hopeful they'll chime in.

Most of the members here are struggling with long term effects of concussions and are frustrated as a result of it and that's why we've seeked each other out here - so you're asking a very small demographic about our experiences. People who make full recoveries don't look for forums about how to recover and cope with long-term effects of concussions.

I was a straight A student in honors classes when I was in High School too. I went on to college and graduated with very good grades; I became an over-achieving, independent and successful woman in a fast-paced and demanding field. I worked more than full time and was very energetic. I worked with a lot of people who had PHD's and was considered "higher functioning". I was even offered a couple of free Master's degrees after working for a few years.

For more than a year after the bad auto accident I was in that gave me the concussion that I am still trying to recover from, I was functioning on a "below average" level. It was completely foreign to me to suddenly be challenged by the simplest of tasks! It is still very frustrating for me at times even though I'm currently functioning at a level "above average" it's still well below my personal norm that I'd grown accustomed to for 33 years.

But I suffered from a complex concussion with a rare side effect. Before recently, when I asked my Dr. whether I would recovery, she would tell me, "We'll just have to see". After 20 months of recovering, she was finally able to tell me that she believed I would be "normal" again based on the recovery I had already made. My point is that you should not lose hope! And neither should your daughter!

The doctors advice is correct - your daughter's brain is trying to repair itself. Doing anything that overtaxes her brain, such as shopping, watching high-stimulating tv or fast-paced music, or even being in a room with a lot of conversation, is counter-productive to her healing process. A healing brain a great deal of energy to heal itself; trying to do anything that takes energy away from that process will prolong its recovery.

The process of my recovery has been excruciatingly boring. I'm personally still bored a lot. But when I overdo it, or try to do more than my brain can tolerate, I experience setbacks. And that is very common.

In an effort to keep myself entertained during this process, I've done a couple of sewing projects, felt Christmas stocking kits. It's all laid out and I don't have to think about what to do next, or be creative, I just sew what the directions tell me to. Maybe that could help your daughter? I also intend to learn how to knit or crochet.

I've also colored a lot. I bought more adult type coloring books from Amazon.

I watch very light TV. Like shows on HGTV that are cleanly edited with a slow paced plot. A lot of jerking camera moves, harsh background music, fast cuts and the like can really overstimulate my brain and do me in. Some cartoons are tolerable (content wise) and not too stimulating too.

Maybe some simple cooking or baking will keep her entertained?

There are craft kits and easy crossword puzzles and other activities that she might be able to handle. It's kind of a trial and error thing.

My own Dr. told me early on that I need to do what I feel like doing and not try to do what I don't feel like doing.

Since she's an athlete, she needs to not "push through" the feeling like she doesn't want to do something. As a very active person before the concussion I sustained, that was very difficult for me to learn to do, especially with decreased cognitive functioning.

Basically, anything she has trouble doing at this point in her recovery is a warning sign from her brain that she's trying to do too much.
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Unread 05-10-2012, 05:32 PM   #3
sarauscher
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EsthersDoll,

Thank you for your reply. Your information was so helpful. I am trying to focus on the now and not worry, but sometimes it is difficult...

Your ideas on how you kept busy were helpful too. We have tried the coloring route, getting more adult type coloring books, but it doesn't amuse her too long. She looks at this as a baby activity.

Please keep any activity ideas coming!
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Unread 05-10-2012, 06:40 PM   #4
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Sheryl,

Welcome to NeuroTalk. Sorry to hear of your daughter's concussion.

I also suffered from an injury from soccer. It was my sophomore year in high school. I struggled with academics for about a year. I appeared to make a good recovery except I would struggle during times of stress. This roller coaster ride has followed me the rest of my life.

I disagree with EsthersDoll about a full recovery. Your daughter has a good chance of making a good recovery but she will forever have a concussed brain. How she moves forward in her soccer efforts and other risks will have a big impact on her future. Most of the long term effects from a concussion do not manifest until the person is in their 40's.

For now, the rule of thumb I use for suggested activities is the hands. Do not do anything that is faster or more complex that the hands can do. The comparison would be, as EsthersDoll said, coloring, knitting, sewing, painting, etc. Video games and computer keyboarding is much faster than the injured brain can tolerate.

What has the 'concussion specialist' and PT been doing besides recommending rest?

I do not consider the term 'concussion specialist' to have any value except to increase that doctor's patient count. Prescribing rest is just the starting point.

At her age, she has many other factors involved. Her hormones are still just getting started. She is in a high change rate for he brain as it starts to mature. The emotional roller coaster can be a struggle.

If she is like most soccer players, this is her worst concussion but not her first concussion. She has likely not reported many of the head impacts that have truly effected her brain. It is the nature of the sport and the competitive nature of girls and their desire to impress their coaches.

If you are where she can take quiet walks away from city noise and voices, they can be helpful. The mild exercise will help her. She needs to work at learning a new walking gait so she does not plant her foot hard. A way to do this is to walk with foam ear plugs in. Then, she can hear her foot plant. Learning to soften her foot plant will be good for her brain and her knees and hips. Walking on grass is also much better than hard surfaces.

Nutrition is a valuable therapy. B-12 (500 to 1000 mcgs daily), a B-50 complex, Omega's, all of the anti-oxidants, magnesium, calcium and a good multi-vitamin will help her brain detoxify. She should avoid caffeine, alcohol, MSG, artificial sweeteners (aspartame/Equal is the worst) and high sugar content foods. Getting good amino acids is good. Most are easiest to get from meat with pork the best. BCAA's (Broken Chain Amino Acids) are the brain's building blocks.

Nutrition is not a quick fix. It takes weeks to start to see improvements. It should become a lifestyle, not just a temporary effort.

Reading highly descriptive books is tougher on the brain than text books and more factual texts. The brain struggles to keep all of the many concepts and characters sorted out. Using a piece of paper to hide the rest of the page can lower the visual work load.

Visual and auditory stimulation should be limited. It is stressful on the brain.

Is she is back to school full time? Lectures or intense instruction like math and science may be too much right now. She could try watching some Kahn Academy math videos at her own pace. Sal Kahn uses a writing pad so his lessons are not fast paced.

An activity she may enjoy is reading to young children in a quiet environment. The slow pace and simple communication will create a whole new way for her to reach out to others. Young cousins or a reading program at the library may be good.

As a high achiever, she will greatly benefit from learning some of these slow down skills. Spending regular time at a slower pace will benefit her for a lifetime. The high achieving, multi-tasking, almost ADD/ADHD style, is stressful on the brain even if the brain has never been injured. Scientific studies prove this.

As a parent, I would be very concerned about future concussions. The next concussion will make this concussion look easy.

Rock Center with Brian Williams did a segment about concussion and girls last night on TV. A lot of the information is available online. One specialist suggested no soccer ball heading until over 14. I believe 18 should be the age before heading a soccer ball is allowed.

There is a claim that neck strengthening will help prevent a concussion. This is not true. There is no science to support such a claim. In fact, the laws of physic (conservation of energy) say just the opposite. Neck strengthening may help prevent some of the neck injuries that accompany concussions but that is all.

The risk girls have with concussion is likely due to low progesterone levels. Progesterone is a neuro-protectant. When it is lower as during 75% of their cycle, the brain is unprotected. Males always have the same blood level of progesterone so they often can tolerate more brain trauma.

I know I have hit you with a fire hose of information. I don't mean to scare you but do want you to have adequate information to make decisions for her future. There are plenty of competitive sports she can play and excel in.

Track and cross country, rowing, and other endurance oriented sports use the endurance skills soccer players have developed. Rowing is a good way to get a college scholarship. Dry-landers can do rowing on rowing machines. It is a great way for a girl to keep a good physique.

I hope you can help her endure and recover with this information.

My best to you.
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Mark in Idaho
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59 years old, retired due to disability, married 34 years, father of three, grandfather of four, Suffered a serious concussion at 10 years old (1965) stopped most driving after concussion at 46 years old (2001), Post Concussion Syndrome/Multiple Concussion/Impact Syndrome with PTSD, immediate/short term visual and auditory memory problems, slowed processing speed, visual/auditory processing difficulties, insomnia, absence seizures, OCD, 14 concussions since first concussion at 8 years old, Taking paroxetine for 14 years and gabapentin for 12 years. Added L-Tryptophan and stopped paroxetine after 3 months of tapering. I currently take 500 mgs of L-Tryptophan AM, 500 mgs noon, and 500 mgs PM.


As of Nov 15th, Due to high stress issues resulting in PTSD, docs put me on 3 meds. Clonazepam but only for 30 days ) .125 mgs twice daily (Doc presc. .25 mgs 2x daily but half a tablet is good) , citalopram (Celexa), an SSRI , and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an atypical anti-psychotic that usually causes weight gain before bed. I lost over 30 pounds since mid July. It just stopped the weight loss. Took me off the gabapentin. I am feeling better than I have in years.

This great feeling only lasted a month. Back to the same old PCS doldrums.

May 2014, I am off the olanzapine due to a 6 fold price increase. Back on 600 mgs of gabapentin before bed.

I am also taking L-Theanine to help with GABA regulation


"Be Still and Know That I am God" Psalm 46:10
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Unread 05-10-2012, 08:01 PM   #5
sarauscher
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Mark,

Thank you for all your valuable information. I am worried about her future, but don't want anything sugar-coated either. I am looking for information/knowledge. I appreciate all the information that you took the time to share with me.
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Unread 05-12-2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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Hi Sheryl,

I am sorry to hear about your daughter's concussion.
You wanted to hear from people that have recovered from one. Well, as has already been mentioned, this forum is self-selected to be predominantly from those of us who are still having problems. I too am in this category. I had a concussion in my fifties and I am still having symptoms....(that wasn't the good news part, it's coming up).

However, this current episode was only after having half a dozen concussion over the course of my life, and I recovered from all the other ones, completely. I know some people will say that there could have been residual damage that was hidden, but as far as matters to me, I repeat, I recovered completely and had no remaining symptoms at all. Now everyone has hit their head and it hurt. That is not what I mean. I mean being concussed in a way that makes you feel ill or out of it or something strange for at least a day or two. Well that has happened to me lots of time previously with no detectable permanent consequences, except perhaps making me more susceptible to future concussions.

The worst previous concussion that I had was when I was 7 years old and I effectively lost my sight and I felt ill for several months afterwards. It might have taken me a year or more before I had no symptoms at all, but that time did come and I went on to do very well at university and sport, as far as I am concerned as if nothing had happened.

So that is something to aim at. Recovery can and does happen. After only seven weeks there is every hope that your daughter will be in the category of people who make a complete recovery, although she might have to be more careful in the future or exclude certain activities in the future. (Heading a ball?!)

OK. Regarding "What options do we have to keep her busy and let her brain heal? "

How about reducing the question to just: "What options are there to let her brain heal?"

If a child gets a bit bored it isn't the end of the world. You don't have to be filling in your child's time-table like a soccer-Mom. That's probably the last thing that she needs. A bit of boredom might actually help. I would certainly err on the side of boredom rather than activity. When I got my concussion when I was at school, most of that year was probably a right-off. It didn't kill me. I caught up as if nothing had happened when I was healthy again. Your daughter can do the same.

So, I wouldn't bother about trying to make her less bored unless it is really driving her out of her mind. I would rather be telling her that she doesn't need to struggle to do anything, but should just take as much rest as she wants. She might actually (perhaps secretly) be relieved if you were to stop her from doing certain activities. Maybe decide together, as a family like: No sports and no going out with your friends till you don't have any symptoms at all, and probably no more soccer, ever, certainly no more heading a ball. She might actually be pleased if you discussed it and decided that this would be for the best. That might be easier for her to say that her parents have banned her than having to say to her peer group that she doesn't feel up to doing something. Her freinds probably feel that they ought to encourage her and persuade her to do more and so she will be under peer-pressure. That sort of thing is difficult for a 13 year old to resist and doing too much too early might really set her back.

I am not a parent myself, but my guess would be that a parent's role would be: rather than suggesting things for her to do, instead a more important role would be to draw the line about what she isn't going to do, at least until she is better. That could be a good investment of effort if it makes her recover sooner.

Best of luck to you all with that.
CS



Quote:
Originally Posted by sarauscher View Post
My daughter suffered from a concussion almost 7 weeks ago. She had some visual disturbance issues (convergence/divergence issues, blurred vision, nystagmus, etc), some dizziness, ringing in the ears, and headaches. We have been going to a concussion specialist and doing Physical Therapy once a week.

The headaches are still pretty much a daily occurence, with a very debiilitating headache about two times per week still.

The doctor says she needs to rest her brain. She is an athlete (Soccer (where the concussion came from) and Track/Cross Country) and she is also a very intelligent child (straight A's and all Honors classes). The doctors have cut out all sports and want her to not read too much or watch TV or any screen time. Just being active (shopping, etc) seems to bother her. What options do we have to keep her busy and let her brain heal? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep her from being bored?

I am also very concerned about the long term effects from this concussion. Reading all the info I can find about Post Concussive Syndrome is really scaring me. Have any of you fully healed from your Concussions?

Thanks for any help you all can offer, I am glad to have found this site.

Sheryl
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Unread 05-12-2012, 04:27 PM   #7
Mark in Idaho
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I strongly disagree with CS.

A teen girl who is a high achiever will be stressed by doing nothing. The low stress stimulation can be very good at reducing the frustration level from boredom. It will also be a way to stimulate a tolerable level of blood flow to the brain.

In many cases, saying 'deal with the boredom' would be a parent's prerogative. This is not that time.

I find it curious that people who claim to have 'complete recoveries' still caution against another concussion and often the progression of each successive concussion. The science is there to show that once concussed, always concussed. As I said, she has a good chance to have a good recovery. This includes all obvious concussion symptoms including brain fog and all of the apparent cognitive symptoms.

My position is that there is a need to seriously consider changes to lifestyle and activities to reduce the risk of another concussion or reduce the stressors that can cause a return of symptoms. There are lots of things that can be done to help her with studies and testing.

Just because she feels recovered does not mean she will have full function during times of stress like exams or any stressful emotional, physical or mental event.

I would usually struggle after any illness that had a prolonged time of fever. The fever would cause a return of symptoms that could last well beyond the fever and illness.

I would have benefited greatly by understanding why I was having struggles when I had recovered from all of my obvious concussion symptoms. Had I understood and anticipated my struggles that resulted from stress, I could have taken better steps to make my educational pursuits more successful.

I do not mean to be a pessimist about recovery. I understand the need to have a positive outlook while recovering. As I have said many times before, anybody who has suffered a concussion with prolonged symptoms has a good opportunity to live a full life.

Windseeker,

How are you doing? I haven't seen you post in quite some time. Are you improving?
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Mark in Idaho
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59 years old, retired due to disability, married 34 years, father of three, grandfather of four, Suffered a serious concussion at 10 years old (1965) stopped most driving after concussion at 46 years old (2001), Post Concussion Syndrome/Multiple Concussion/Impact Syndrome with PTSD, immediate/short term visual and auditory memory problems, slowed processing speed, visual/auditory processing difficulties, insomnia, absence seizures, OCD, 14 concussions since first concussion at 8 years old, Taking paroxetine for 14 years and gabapentin for 12 years. Added L-Tryptophan and stopped paroxetine after 3 months of tapering. I currently take 500 mgs of L-Tryptophan AM, 500 mgs noon, and 500 mgs PM.


As of Nov 15th, Due to high stress issues resulting in PTSD, docs put me on 3 meds. Clonazepam but only for 30 days ) .125 mgs twice daily (Doc presc. .25 mgs 2x daily but half a tablet is good) , citalopram (Celexa), an SSRI , and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an atypical anti-psychotic that usually causes weight gain before bed. I lost over 30 pounds since mid July. It just stopped the weight loss. Took me off the gabapentin. I am feeling better than I have in years.

This great feeling only lasted a month. Back to the same old PCS doldrums.

May 2014, I am off the olanzapine due to a 6 fold price increase. Back on 600 mgs of gabapentin before bed.

I am also taking L-Theanine to help with GABA regulation


"Be Still and Know That I am God" Psalm 46:10

Last edited by Mark in Idaho; 05-12-2012 at 04:54 PM.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 12:38 AM   #8
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Hi Mark In Idaho,

I understand that you believe no one can fully recover from a concussion because they are more susceptible to getting another concussion after having one.

But, just because you had trouble recovering from a long fever does not mean that everyone who has had a concussion will have trouble in the same way or even have trouble from anything.

As you often inform people here, "Once you've seen one brain injury, you've seen one brain injury."

I agree that changes need to be made after a person has been diagnosed with one concussion to try to ensure that they do not sustain another one. But sometimes you make it sound like a much more drastic change needs to happen, or that there will be very severe and permanent impairments to everyone that has had just one concussion. The fact is, that not everyone does have to drastically change their lives or deal with permanent symptoms after having one concussion.

I think when many people refer to making a "full" recovery, that they are really talking about their cognitive functioning levels and energy levels returning to what they were before the injury that they are trying to recovery from.

Most people know that if you break a bone or tear a muscle, that it could be more susceptible to feeling weather changes and they might not be able to do quite as much as they could before, but the fact that it's not a constant disability like they are in a full body cast anymore feels almost like it's as good as new! And speaking for myself, I can tell you that the impairments that I am currently dealing with make me feel disabled and I don't want to live with them. My Dr. has told me that I'll be "normal" again and I take that to mean that I won't have to deal with the speech impediments or cognitive deficits that I'm dealing with now forever; that they will continue to improve, as they have, until they're all gone. And I'm looking forward to that. Does that mean I'm going to play soccer? Hell no! But I will at least feel better because thinking and speaking won't be as much of a challenge as they are to me now, they will be like they were before.

I think you sometimes get caught up in small details and tend to tell everyone who comes here for help and advice that they need to make huge and drastic changes to their lives, and conduct oodles of tests and learn to cope with permanent deficits after they have been diagnosed with one concussion. I tend to think you especially believe it to be true because that has been your personal experience with the concussions you have sustained.

I think it must be very scary for anyone to read that - I personally know that some people recovering from a concussion are a lot more suggestible than normal and reading your posts sound like the only possible outcome and that's just not the case.

I respect you very much. I think you are a very knowledgeable and intelligent member who contributes a great deal to a community that desperately needs it. But, I also think that because of the multiple head injuries that you have acquired, you suffer from rigid thinking (which you have told us about yourself on a few occasions), and I think this is just another example of that.

I hope I have not offended you in any way by my posting this; that was certainly not my intention in any way shape or form.
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Unread 05-13-2012, 03:23 AM   #9
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Kim,

You have not offended me at all with your comments. My claim about 'once concussed, always concussed ' is based on scientific research. The concussed brain will always have a residual level of injury. As I say, it may not show up until the person is under stress or reaches middle age, but it needs to be understood as the nature of an injured brain.

The appearance of a full recovery is just that. It is to be grasped with enthusiasm with an intent to pursue a full life. But, taking new risks or making life style choices should be with the understanding of an injured brain in the equation.

Up until 2001, I lived my life as if I did not have an injured brain.

Except, I had to stop flying airplanes. My brain could not tolerate the altitudes.

I had to make career choices that were different than those I could have chosen had my brain been able to tolerate higher stress levels.

The one area of my life that I did not understand was the tendency to have emotional explosions. When they happened, it was as if I could not control them. Now, I know how to recognize the stress that could lead to an explosion. I can usually make choices to prevent the outburst.

As much as any of us want to see a full recovery for ourselves and the others who post here, we also would not wish our experience on our worst enemies.

Most have only been through one episode of PCS. I have been through 6 episodes of PCS. All of my previous episodes had good recoveries but not full recoveries. I made some changes starting in 1974 when I was first living on my own and needing to be accountable for my own welfare.

As I become more overwhelmed with PCS since 2001, my family started relating the changes in personality and other behaviors that they witnessed as my concussion count progressed.

My history fits well into the normal progression of multiple concussions.

As much as I tried to avoid risks of hitting my head and made small career decisions, there is much that I did not understand. A more in depth understanding of the progression of PCS would have greatly benefited my life and the life of many around me.

I have not only the perspective of the injured person but also the perspective of the caregivers, family and others impacted by the injured person's actions. Those around me have been very open with their observations of both me and others in our circle of friends and family.

I have witnessed friends who have suffered concussions and never understood their PCS who have progressed to mental illness from the damage their brains received from their continued struggles with life. Some simple life style choices/changes could have benefited them greatly.

My wife participates in a Brain Injury Support Group caregivers/family sub-group. She sees how my struggles are very similar to the struggles the others face. The most common problem mentioned is the injured person's defiance to moderate their life to reduce their symptoms or their negative impact on others.

We know face to face, at least 30 brain injured people and their families/caregivers. There is a wide range of injuries but the life struggles are all very similar.

The common TBI/mTBI therapy and counseling rarely has a forward looking focus. Most of the deeper and more forward looking understanding comes from the group interacting and learning things that the professionals never consider.

I wish I had known back in the mid 70's half of what I know now. I would have been able to make much better life decisions.

We have a friend who took 3 miserable months to recover from a concussion. Her observations helped her make some major changes that improved her life.

Swimming against the current of PCS can be miserable. Learning to swim with the current of PCS is much easier and more full-filling.

My best to all as you try to understand how to swim with the current.
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59 years old, retired due to disability, married 34 years, father of three, grandfather of four, Suffered a serious concussion at 10 years old (1965) stopped most driving after concussion at 46 years old (2001), Post Concussion Syndrome/Multiple Concussion/Impact Syndrome with PTSD, immediate/short term visual and auditory memory problems, slowed processing speed, visual/auditory processing difficulties, insomnia, absence seizures, OCD, 14 concussions since first concussion at 8 years old, Taking paroxetine for 14 years and gabapentin for 12 years. Added L-Tryptophan and stopped paroxetine after 3 months of tapering. I currently take 500 mgs of L-Tryptophan AM, 500 mgs noon, and 500 mgs PM.


As of Nov 15th, Due to high stress issues resulting in PTSD, docs put me on 3 meds. Clonazepam but only for 30 days ) .125 mgs twice daily (Doc presc. .25 mgs 2x daily but half a tablet is good) , citalopram (Celexa), an SSRI , and olanzapine (Zyprexa), an atypical anti-psychotic that usually causes weight gain before bed. I lost over 30 pounds since mid July. It just stopped the weight loss. Took me off the gabapentin. I am feeling better than I have in years.

This great feeling only lasted a month. Back to the same old PCS doldrums.

May 2014, I am off the olanzapine due to a 6 fold price increase. Back on 600 mgs of gabapentin before bed.

I am also taking L-Theanine to help with GABA regulation


"Be Still and Know That I am God" Psalm 46:10
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Unread 05-13-2012, 11:48 AM   #10
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Thanks Mark!

So you believe (based on your research) that everyone who suffers just one concussion will have to live with its effects for the rest of their life, even if those effects don't manifest until much later in life (after the PCS is seemingly long gone and forgotten)?
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